WestKing’s Hospitality school accredited by Craft Guild of Chefs

Westminster Kingsway College’s award-winning School of Hospitality and Culinary achieved another milestone when it was awarded accredited status by the Craft Guild of Chefs this month.

The Craft Guild of Chefs is the leading chef association in the UK. It plays a key role in championing the skills and talents of the people in the foodservice and hospitality sector and, as a part of this, it runs a prestigious accreditation scheme which universities and colleges that teach culinary skills can apply to join.

To be accredited, universities and colleges must meet stringent criteria set by the Craft Guild of Chefs, demonstrating that the faculty offers a high calibre of teaching. An independent assessor also inspects the college to ensure it meets the high standards required.

As Curriculum Manager Miranda Quantrill explained: “We are absolutely delighted that the college’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts provision has been accredited by the Craft Guild of Chefs. This is great news and it’s a massive endorsement of the work that we do here. A big thank you to all the staff and the students who made this possible.”

The Craft Guild’s independent assessor visited the college in early November and spoke to staff including Miranda and Restaurant Manager Marc Whitley as well as a number of our students.

He was glowing in his praise of both the quality of teaching and the attitude of the students, saying in his report: “It is clear that everyone excepts nothing but the best from each other and both staff and students understand that ethos, respect it and are more than happy to ensure the high standards requested are maintained by everyone.”

As part of his inspection, the assessor also visited the Escoffier Room, the college’s fine dining restaurant, where students cook meals for, and serve, members of the public, and was served a meal by students.

He also spoke to a couple of first year students, both of whom talked with excitement about the course and their desires to progress through the industry and what they wanted for their future. Both students spoke extremely highly of the course the tutors and the facilities they had the good fortune to be taught within.

The assessor concluded his report saying: “Westminster Kingsway College benefit from a committed and professional team of hospitality lecturers. The standards set by the faculty team is reflected in the appearance and enthusiasm shown by the students. It is clear that many students will have successful careers and the continued relationships with industry will support this objective.”

Terry Tinton, Assistant Principal Hospitality, Foundation Studies and Commercial, said: “We are over the moon that the Craft Guild of Chefs has awarded Westminster Kingsway College accredited status.

“This award has been well-earned and recognises the decades of skill and experience that has gone into the quality of our culinary teaching, as well as the way that we structure our courses to make them as industry-relevant as possible.

“It’s why students from all over the south-east of England come to us, and why so many of them graduate from here into great jobs in some of the country’s top restaurants and hotels.”

Do you want to be a chef or work in hospitality? Learn from the best at WestKing. Find out more about our Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here and apprenticeship training here.

Former WestKing Hospitality student named runner-up in UK Receptionist of the Year

A former Westminster Kingsway College hospitality student has been named runner-up in the AICR UK Receptionist of the Year competition.

Emily Gilson-Jones, 19, who works at the five-star Pan Pacific London hotel in the City, came second out of 10 finalists at a ceremony at Hotel Café Royal in Regent Street on 14 November.

She said: “It’s a huge shock to be named as one of the best receptionists in the UK, but one of the best achievements of my career so far.

“When they announced the second runner-up as the girl from Four Seasons, I thought I haven’t got a chance, but then they announced me as the first runner-up. Suddenly, they handed me a certificate and I was in tears. I’m still gobsmacked to be honest. It has only just started to sink in.”

Emily achieved a triple-starred Distinction in her Hospitality Level 3 Diploma at WestKing in 2021 and was one of two students to share the college’s Best Hospitality Student of the Year award that year.

She began her hospitality career working part-time in front and back of house roles at the Roslin Beach Hotel in her hometown of Southend-on-Sea while she was studying at college.

After finishing her diploma, Emily worked as a Private Events Waitress for The Connaught in Mayfair before joining Pan Pacific London as a Front Desk Agent in March this year.

“I loved my time at WestKing. Even when everything went online during the pandemic, we were still doing all our classes and working as a team and all of the college tutors supported us,” she said.

“By the time it came to the graduation ceremony I couldn’t believe it was over. I wanted to stay on for another two years and do it all again.”

Emily was among a group of students at WestKing who provided catering and hospitality for a schools’ event at 10 Downing Street to mark International Women’s Day just prior to lockdown.

“I remember thinking this is quite overwhelming but really cool, I’m 16 years old and I am having the opportunity to do this,” said Emily, who along with other students met then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other political figures on the day.

“My connection at The Connaught was also through the college. If I hadn’t gone to WestKing I wouldn’t be where I am now, because if The Connaught wasn’t on my CV I wouldn’t have got the opportunity at Pan Pacific.

“I’m working at a five-star hotel, which wouldn’t have happened if I had just walked out of school with A Levels and then decided I wanted to work in hospitality. WestKing gave me my first real stepping stone on my hospitality journey. I wouldn’t change it.”

Emily learnt she was among the finalists in October following an interview with AICR UK committee members after she was nominated by Nicole Cechmann, Front of House Manager at Pan Pacific.

“The team I work alongside at Pan Pacific is one of the best teams I’ve ever worked in,” said Emily. 

“For a business to be successful you need to work as a team, and when you get on with the team you work with, it makes it so much easier.

“It’s also nice when guests are checking in and excited about their stay, and when they leave and they tell you their experience has lived up to or gone beyond their expectations. That is probably one of the most rewarding things. It’s the reason we work in the industry.”

The AICR (Amicale Internationale des Sous Directeurs et Chefs de Réception des Grand Hôtel) was founded by the receptionists of several hotels on the Côte d’Azur in France in 1964.

AICR UK was formed when the Association of Front Office Management (UK) joined the AICR in 1989, three years after the association was established in 1986.

Liane Bhalla, Lecturer in Hospitality, Food and Beverage and Supervision, said: “We are all super proud that Emily has finished as the first runner-up in the AICR Best Receptionist UK 2022.

“At college she showed huge potential. She was always bubbly and enthusiastic, going above and beyond what was required of her in her assignment and practical sessions in the training restaurants and happy to volunteer to take part in other events. She was clearly destined for a fantastic career in hospitality.”

Apply now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here.

Young chef ‘humbled and proud’ to win Compass Group’s Apprentice of the Year

A “phenomenal” young chef from Westminster Kingsway College has been named Apprentice of the Year 2022 at Compass Group UK & Ireland’s Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards.

Dylan Patel, 25, who is undertaking a Chef de Partie Level 3 Apprenticeship at Compass Group’s head office in Chertsey, Surrey, won the award in the Retail, Hospitality and Tourism category.

The awards showcase the huge talent and hard work within multicultural communities that is made possible through the contribution and support of employers and education providers.

Dylan, from Hounslow, who started his culinary career on a Commis Chef Level 2 Apprenticeship, said: “I am so humbled and proud to being named the winner of this award.

“Taking on this apprenticeship has allowed me to follow my passion, balancing learning with practical work whilst getting paid. I love being part of the team here and learning from others around me.

“There is always something new to uncover and that’s what I enjoy most about being a chef and I hope to build my knowledge further, as I continue this exciting journey.”

Compass Group UK & Ireland is part of Compass Group, the largest contract catering company in the world employing 500,000 people and serving 5.5 billion meals to 55,000 clients each year.

Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Compass Group UK & Ireland, congratulated Dylan on his “wonderful achievement.”

He further praised Dylan’s “phenomenal efforts” as he has progressed in his career and described him as a great role model for anyone looking to start an apprenticeship.

Tom Damen, Chef Lecturer at WestKing, said: “Each week at college I see Dylan’s commitment to improving his culinary skills. Through his apprenticeship at Compass Group he has excelled to a new level of professionalism and confidence.

“I would like to congratulate him on wining Compass Group’s Apprentice of the Year, which is so well deserved. He is an outstanding young chef and destined to go far in the industry.”

Apply now for Hospitality and Culinary Arts apprenticeships here.

Helping Londoners into great digital and hospitality jobs

On Wednesday 21 September, Capital City College Group (CCCG) and Central District Alliance (CDA) came together to celebrate the launch of the Mayor of London Academy Hubs in the Digital and Hospitality industries. The Hubs are a key part of the Mayor’s Academy Hub programme – a £44 million initiative to support the capital’s recovery from the pandemic.

They were joined by London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, Jules Pipe, and employer partners who are working with the Group and CDA to deliver the Academy Hubs’ work.

Supporting Londoners into work for the first time or into higher paid and more secure work – especially from under-represented groups such as minority ethnic communities, women and disabled people – is a key priority for London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan. The Digital and Hospitality Hubs will work with employers to train Londoners for work in those industries, helping them meet their staffing and recruitment challenges.

Having strong Digital and Hospitality sectors will be critical to London’s recovery. For example, the hospitality industry employs around 400,000 people in London, but the lack of suitable and trained staff means there are too many vacancies which is costing the sector billions in lost revenue.

CDA is the Business Improvement District for Holborn and Clerkenwell. Its footprint, which spans Holborn and Clerkenwell, is also home to a world-leading tech cluster, including household names such as Google, TikTok, Snapchat and LinkedIn. These employers – alongside hundreds of others in the CDA district and across the city – can provide a range of jobs and career opportunities for Londoners and so CCCG, working collaboratively with CDA, will establish partnerships to facilitate these new roles.

However, 210,000 people are currently unemployed in London and a further 1,080,000 adults – some 21.7% of the working age population – are economically inactive. So, the Academy Hubs’ role will be to unlock the valuable contribution that businesses can bring and enable more socially-excluded Londoners to gain employment.

As Jules Pipe explained at the event: “The inequalities that were already present in London were laid bare by the pandemic. Over 750,000 working people in London are still paid less than the London Living Wage and more than a quarter of Londoners are living in poverty once their housing costs are taken into account.

“We’re committed to using the skills funding that we have at our disposal to support Londoners – particularly the most disadvantaged and those most impacted by the pandemic – to acquire the skills they need to progress in life and get into good work.

“I’d like to congratulate all the partners for the leadership shown by the CDA and Capital City College Group for making this possible.”

Also speaking at the event, Alexander Jan, Chair of Central District Alliance (CDA) said: “We want to ensure sustainable and inclusive economic growth, which means delivering skills and employment opportunities for our communities.

“We need some big ideas and collective action, and we very much believe that connecting and encouraging people back into the labour market and to help people who are looking for work gain the skills they need to do so, is at the heart of that approach.

“We and our members are delighted to be working with Capital City College Group, to help provide long-term unemployed people with opportunities to gain good quality jobs and helping them gain the skills they need to do so.”

Westminster Kingsway College is part of Capital City College Group and already runs a wide range of courses in the hospitality and digital sectors. The Group is therefore ideally placed to support even more Londoners into these exciting industries. To illustrate the transformative effect that skills training can have, current and former students from the college also spoke at the event about their experiences.

Opeoluwa Odutayo studied Culinary Arts at Westminster Kingsway College, before setting up Ice Cream and Ting, which produces ice creams with Caribbean and African flavours, including Plantain, Hibiscus, and Avocado and Strawberry.

She said: “My teachers at Westminster Kingsway College helped me with advice and boosted my confidence. I worked at events and did internships at four different restaurants to gain experience and at the end of my course, I won the overall best student award. My mum was so proud of me!”

The college also exposes students to industries that they will be working in when they have qualified – helping them gain contacts and eventually secure good quality work.

Student in Hospitality Archie Smitton said: “Working at events with the college helps me get contacts in the industry and work out where in the industry I want to work.

“Last year I did work experience in a Peruvian restaurant in Green Park and a modern English restaurant in Soho and later this year I’m going to Lisbon for two weeks’ work experience.  I’m really looking forward to learning a different language and working in a different country.”

The Hubs have already started work – holding taster sessions and introductory courses hosted by industry experts. These have been in, for example, culinary skills, coding for women, digital marketing, cyber security and user experience (UX) design.

In addition, the Digital Hub will be running internship programmes which will come with additional support including employability training, ongoing support, advice, and guidance on getting the most out of the programme, as well as support for interns to build their network and prepare for their next steps.

And the Hospitality Hub is working with Westminster TalentServe (Westminster City Council’s new recruitment service for its hospitality and leisure businesses) to provide all the training to people who are referred to the service.

You can find out more about the Digital and Hospitality hubs and all our Mayor of London Skills Academies here.